August 22 and Iran

Iranian military exercise and August 22. Debka:
Washington is keeping a sharp weather eye out for Tuesday, August 22, which this year corresponds in the Islamic calendar to the date on which many Sunni Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on his winged horse Buraq to “the farthest mosque”, which is traditionally identified with Jerusalem.

According to the Muslim legend, on that day, a divine white light spread over Jerusalem and the whole world.

DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that information rated “highly credible” has reached US undercover agencies of a secret report presented to Iran’s supreme ruler Ali Khamenei by Abdollah Shabhazi, one of the heads of the Supreme National Security Council. He claims to expose a mega-terror plot against Jerusalem scheduled for August 22, which aims at killing large numbers of Jews, Arabs and Christians. This atrocity will reportedly arm the United States and Israel with the pretext for hitting Iran’s nuclear installations, as well its capital, Tehran, and other big cities. Shabhazi says the US and Israel need to launch a military campaign to restore the deterrent strength they lost in the Lebanon war. The massive attack will reportedly focus on the Old City of Jerusalem and its eastern suburbs. The Iranian report claims that the plotters, who are not identified, are eager to recreate the divine white light whish spread over Jerusalem in the year 632. It does not rule out the use of a non-conventional weapon.
DEBKAfile reports that the authorities in Israel do not appear to be taking this threat seriously, unlike Washington – and Tehran.

US to push for sanctions if no joy from Tehran. Vital Perspective: 'On Thursday, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said the U.S. will push quickly for sanctions if Iran fails to suspend uranium enrichment by an end of August deadline, set by the Security Council. Tehran has said it will respond by August 22 to an offer of economic incentives from the P-5 + 1. The incentives would be in exchange for a suspension of Iran's nuclear enrichment activities.'

North Korea link? CTB: 'When news broke Friday that North Korea may be preparing for an underground detonation of a nuclear device, the question that immediately arose in my mind was whether this was linked to Iran's self-imposed Aug. 22 deadline for providing a final answer about its nuclear development. Certainly the two countries have cooperated in the past.'

Bernard Lewis explains it all. Via LGF, historian Bernard Lewis explains the significance of the August 22 date:
In Islam, as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time--Gog and Magog, anti-Christ, Armageddon, and for Shiite Muslims, the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil, however these may be defined. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the U.S. about nuclear development by Aug. 22. This was at first reported as "by the end of August," but Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement was more precise.
What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.

A passage from the Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook, is revealing. "I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning.

August 22 and uranium enrichment. DebkaNet Weekly (subscription): 'Next Tuesday, Aug. 22, Tehran will reveal to the world that it has made important progress in uranium enrichment development following a breakthrough in the activation of P-2 centrifuges.
A loud international outcry is expected to ensue, together with another urgent demand from Washington to impose punitive sanctions on the Islamic Republic. However, foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki predicts that the Lebanon war’s impact will mute Western protests and persuade the Europeans more easily to oppose sanctions for long enough to give Iran more breathing space. The Russians and Chinese and their vetoes are in the bag. He is sure Europe will now shrink back from any military showdown with Iran and even the United States will reconsider any planned assaults.'


Ahmadinejad's Website: The Islamist virus strikes!

One of the Iranian activists' favorite nicknames for the islamist regime is "the virus". Now it seems the thug-in-chief has decided to take this designation to a new level. Atlas Shrugs:
Over at the inetimable GIYUS blog, Iran is exporting cyber terror through Ahmadjiadman's diabolical website. WARNING: I sraeli bloggers do not log on it will destroy your computer ...

Read the rest at the link. Israeli readers using Internet Explorer, be warned: you have been found unworthy to partake of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's wisdom.

Uri Grossman, 1985-2006

Last night I responded to the book meme posted by JMK. Among the books I mentioned (one that "made me cry") was See Under: Love by the Israeli novelist David Grossman.

Only a few hours later, David's son Uri Grossman was reported killed in Lebanon. As the Jerusalem Post notes, 'In a press conference convened by author David Grossman along with fellow writers A.B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz last week, the three pled with the Israeli government to reach a cease-fire agreement – two days later, Grossman's son, Uri, was killed in Lebanon. ... The three authors initially expressed unequivocal support for a military act of self-defense at the outbreak of the war, but later changed their position in the face of the cabinet's decision to expend operations in Lebanon. Grossman himself argued that Israel already exhausted its self-defense right.'

Arutz Sheva: 'The son of left wing author David Grossman was killed in action in southern Lebanon on Saturday. The soldier, Sergeant First Class, Uri Grossman, is from Mevasseret Zion, outside Jerusalem. Grossman was killed when his tank was hit by a missile in the south Lebanese village of Khirbet Kasif.'

Imshin has more: 'Our girls grew up on a steady diet of Grossman’s wonderful Itamar books, when they were little. I also loved reading them to them, over and over again. He must be a wonderful father to write such magical children’s books. My favorite is called ‘Itamar the Dream Hunter’, in which Itamar’s father teaches him to deal with the demon that haunts his dreams by facing it. ...'

Book Meme

Tagged by: Jeremayakovka

1. One book that changed your life
Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man

This one book changed my entire way of thinking about Orthodox Judaism and completely demolished the stereotypes I'd been taught by the liberal Jewish world.

- and -
Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

This book helped me to come to terms with my dysfunctional family background. Macon ("Milkman") Dead has to deal with a lot of tough problems, including external oppression (from a racist society) and internal oppression (from within the family). He learns to liberate himself by understanding the mistakes his parents made - and by accepting the magical secret that they passed on to him. I'm planning to write a post on SoS one of these days.

2. One book you have read more than once
Daniel Pinkwater, Lizard Music

This book is simply sublime.

3. One book you would want on a desert island
Samuel R. Delany, Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand

4. One book that made you laugh
Alison Bechdel, Dykes to Watch Out For (the series)

5. One book that made you cry
David Grossman, See Under: Love (tr. by Betsy Rosenberg)

Audre Lorde, The Complete Poems

6. One book you wish had been written
Stephanie McLintock, The First Half: My Life and Works at Age 42

If only.

- also -
Tammy Bruce, Mary Cheney, and Irshad Manji, GWOT: The Gay War On Terror; Why the Queer Community Must Unite Against Islamic Fascism

I'm thinking of using that for a post title.

7. One book you wish had never been written
Sayyid Qutb, the complete works

8. One book you're currently reading
Bernard Lewis, The Middle East
Richard Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics

9. One book you've been meaning to read
Stephen Wolfram, The Mathematica Book

A tragic update: David Grossman's son Uri has just been reported killed.


War Bulletin: The Fog of War

Michael Totten's new podcast (8:17) from Metulla on the Israeli/Lebanese border paints a picture of tight-lipped Israeli soldiers crossing into Lebanon on foot. Now - after a seemingly endless and apparently pointless delay - Israel's ground invasion has begun.

A report from Stratfor (subscription) notes the unusually high level of infighting within the Israeli government, but does not ascribe the delay exclusively to that - or to any other known factor. "Something is holding the Israelis back", the report observes; "there is an aspect to Israeli thinking that we do not understand".

Maybe the events of the coming week will make things clearer.

Beyond the Whore/Madonna Complex: A Sense of Self

There's a great new post by Tekanji at Alas, a Blog on modesty vs. raunch culture. Although I find her critique of "modesty" too sweeping, she makes some excellent points about the culture of shame that drives the objectification and fetishization of women. Here is part of her critique of exhibitionistic "raunch culture":
... just as the choice to adopt “modest” dress does not live in a vaccum, neither does the choice to wear “revealing” clothing. There is a lot of pressure on young girls to adopt a particular style of dress. ...

Raunch culture guilts and shames women into putting on a sexual performance for men, whether they want to or not. It sets up a “right” way to express sexuality, and by pushing the notion that men are entitled to sexual gratification, even if it’s just in the form of women wearing low-cut shirts, it ignores the fact that true sexual liberation comes from people being able to make choices about what makes them happy without being guilted and/or shamed into acting a certain way. In that way, it is very much a part of, and a method of perpetuating, a sexually negative culture.

The political Right (as I noted in an earlier post) is sometimes schizophrenic on this. The neoconservative side of the brain waxes eloquent about the oppression of women under the burqa-enforcing yoke of Islam, but the social-conservative side of the brain thinks women ought to stay covered up. But what really matters is our freedom to set our own limits.

In a Purim-related post in 2004, I wrote:
Vashti, the queen of Persia, commits an open act of defiance against the King. After seven days of feasting, King Ahasuerus, in his cups, commands that the his wife the queen be brought before all the men “wearing a royal diadem” – and nothing else, as the traditional interpretation has it. Queen Vashti, furious, refuses this degrading order.

The king is so taken aback that he has to consult his advisers as to what to do next. An official named Memucan opines that Vashti’s insurrection will “make all wives despise their husbands” and that therefore she must be exiled immediately, lest there be “no end of scorn and provocation.” This edict, he continues, should be promulgated “throughout the lands of Persia and Media,” after which the king should take another bride “more worthy” than Vashti, so that “all wives will treat their husbands with respect.” King Ahasuerus does exactly as Memucan instructs.

Let us notice the implications. It is the king’s honor, and not the queen’s, that is of concern here. In fact, simply by insisting on her own dignity and autonomy, the insubordinate queen is a threat to his honor. And finally, the king, as ruler of his country, has an obligation to uphold this patriarchal value system lest it infect the lower classes.

What is the right that was so important to Vashti? Simply put, it is the right to wear clothes. It is the right to define her own boundaries, and to claim her body as her own. It is her right to exist.

It is also the right to present herself to the world in a fashion of her own choosing. Beyond the need to keep warm, beyond our basic instinct for decency, we wear clothes to express ourselves. Getting dressed is the first creative act we do every day. There is something so fundamental about this need that people will risk punishment for it. In contemporary Iran, some women deliberately wear colored socks, or allow a forbidden strand of hair to show, simply to assert their own autonomy in the face of Islamic totalitarianism. ...

I also argue (as does Tekanji) that our right to choose our mode of dress is intimately linked to our gender expression: 'By covering ourselves, we create the possibility of defining our own relationship to gender. Transgendered individuals, like the defiant Iranian women, have often risked harrassment and physical violence in order to dress according to their own identities. Those of us who do not identify with our socially dictated “assigned gender” can identify with that Persian queen: Vashti’s right to wear a dress is my right to wear a dress.' (See also my post on the Kabbalah.)

Go read Tekanji's full post at the link. And don't forget to bookmark Alas, a Blog.

Somewhere between totalitarianism and anarchy there is a world where we are free as individuals to define our own boundaries. It's a world where we can express ourselves - and conceal ourselves - without fear of persecution or exploitation. It is a free world, a world that we can make a reality.

Sharansky Assails Fumbling Olmert

Jerry Gordon at Israpundit:
Today, I heard from one of the few in Israel’s Knesset with any moral clarity, renown international human rights icon and former Likud cabinet member, Natan Sharansky.

The occasion was a conference call convened by One Jerusalem and host Allen Roth with several bloggers, among them ‘Atlas Shrugs, ‘Boker Tov, Boulder,’ ‘Right Wing News,’ and me representing ‘Israpundit.’

We were granted an unprecedented opportunity to ask questions and hear a response from M.K. Sharansky. Who despite his leave taking from the incapacitated Sharon’s cabinet in 2005 over last August’s Gaza unilateral disengagement is nevertheless a member of Knesset security committees. So, he is privy to much of the IDF war plans and security cabinet debates and decisions and what lies behind them. Because of his book ‘The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror,’ cowritten with Ron Dermer and laudatory comments from President Bush and his visits in Washington, he also presumably has the ear of key decisionmakers in the Bush Administration and the Congress.

Sharansky repeatedly described the Olmert government as ‘hesitant, tentative, unsure’ in its decision-making when as he graphically pointed ‘two million live in bomb shelters’ every night. The impression that Sharansky lent during the call is that virtually all of the population want this war prosecuted and fast and is behind the IDF to do it.

War Bulletin: New Threats for Israel

The new issue of DebkaNet Weekly (subscription) carries describes the threat Israeli troops are facing from a well-supplied enemy, including three types of anti-tank missiles (the Sagger AT-3A missile, the Metis-M 9K115-2 and the Kornet ATGM) which have inflicted significant losses on the Israeli tank corps. DNW adds, though, that the first tanks engaged by the enemy may have been early production models not fitted with full countermeasures (in particular the Trophy system made by General Dynamics), built at a time when Israel did not envision a significant anti-tank threat on the horizon. DNW also mentions a sophisticated Hezbollah communications system (supplied by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps) which was able to overcome Israeli countermeasures.

Stratfor (subscription) reports that Hezbollah was able to deceive Israel about the number of rocket launchers it destroyed by using heat-emitting decoys, which absorbed Israeli airstrikes after the real launchers had been removed. They're also reporting heavy fighting in the Eastern District in southern Lebanon.

Night Flashes

CTB traces a string of al-Q plots against planes: 'In statement by Osama bin Laden issued in early October 2002, he warned: “We will target the nodes of your economy.” ... but the Iranian economy isn't doing so hot, as 20,000 workers lose their jobs in Mazandaran province: "Unfortunately the employment situation in the industrial city of Ghaem-shahr is destroyed and factories and workers are in a very bad situation; unemployment is the biggest concern for the authorities here.” ... and Ahmad Batebi (you remember, the T-shirt guy) is on a hunger strike after his re-arrest and his family are being told not to get any ideas about speaking out ...

... Arutz Sheva lists the names of Israel's fallen soldiers ...

Drinks on a plane!

Wisdom from the LiveJournal universe, via rhiannonstone:
First they came for the knitting needles, and I didn't speak up
Because I wasn't much of a knitter
Then they came for the shoes, and I didn't speak up
Because I wear sandals
Then they came for the lighters, and I didn't speak up
Because I don't smoke
Then they came for my Dr Pepper
And now it's on, motherfuckers.

Islamic Fascists Object to Being Called "Islamic Fascists"

Via Atlas: CAIR objects to Bush's use of the term "Islamic fascists".
We believe this is an ill-advised term and we believe that it is counter-productive to associate Islam or Muslims with fascism,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group.
Tough shit.

FDD Update

Foundation for the Defense of Democracies:
Notes and Comments
1559 OR FIGHT? Two years ago, the "international community" expressed its will. UN Security Council Resolution 1559 -- a rare Chapter VII resolution that carries the force of international law -- calls for Hezbollah to be disarmed.

Had 1559 been implemented, Hezbollah would not have been able to launch a war without the consent of the government and people of Lebanon. Had 1559 been implemented, many Lebanese and Israelis who have been killed in recent weeks would still be alive today.

One thing should be clear: Hezbollah cannot use this war as a way to accomplish the de facto repeal of 1559. Hezbollah must, finally, be disarmed. If not, the lesson will be that the international community rewards aggression. That will mean more aggression, more wars in the future, not fewer. Yes, it's that simple. My column on a related theme is here.

MEDIA AND MESSAGE, PART I: I was watching CNN on Sunday when precision bombing was being carried out by Israel on Hezbollah targets in a Beirut suburb, and Hezbollah was firing missiles at civilians in Haifa.

The first headline focused on the Arab "outrage." The second headline was passive: "Haifa hit by barrage of rockets."

How do you explain this difference? Discuss among yourselves.

MEDIA AND MESSAGE, PART DEUX: Charles Johnson of the Little Green Footballs blog found evidence that Reuters photographers have been manipulating photos of Lebanon to make Israel look worse. More here.

Civilian Casualties

From the 911Neocons group, member isirota sounds off:
Israel is taking so much grief from so many countries over
its "disproportionate" response to the Hezbollah terrorist attack.
I was wondering what the record of some of those countries who are
criticizing Israel might be.

Let's see, why don't we start with Russia. Ah, the Russians are a
peaceful group, aren't they? Why, look at what they did in
Chechnya: http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/archive/index.php/t-
1965.html. Estimates range from 20,000 to well over 100,000 Chechen
civilians were killed when Grozny was levelled. Now, the Chechens
undoubtedly have engaged in terrorist acts against Russia, but they
didn't killed tens of thousands. So, methinks the Russian response
was, shall we say, DISPROPORTIONATE.

Okay, what about those wonderful nations of Western Europe. I'll
give you that they don't like to use military action. Hell, they
were protected by the American nuclear umbrella for 50+ years after
WWII, so they really didn't have to do much (though the ultra-
hypocritical French managed to knock off some 82,000 Algerian
civilians when that country dared to assert that it should not be a
French colony--see http://www.ppu.org.uk/war/facts/www00-95a.html),
but now they've been involved in some military adventures of late,
like in Bosnia and Kosova (through NATO). How many civilians were
killed there? Well, according Human Rights Watch, over 1,000
civilians were killed in those two actions. See
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/nato/Natbm200-01.htm and

Now, near as I can tell, Serbia NEVER threatened Western Europe, and
NEVER posed an existential threat to France, or Holland, or Great
Britain, or Germany, etc. Any of you remember Serbian suicide
bombers blowing themselves up in Parisian cafes? How about in
London pubs? No? What about in German brauhaus'? I didn't think

And of course, Israel has been condemned by those paragons of
virtue, the Chinese. In Tiananmen Square, the government itself
admits that it killed at least 200 people, but estimates range into
the thousands. See
Those numbers too low for you? Ask the Tibetans how nicely they've
been treated. Over 1,000,000 (a conservative estimate, according to
some) of them have died as a result of the Chinese takeover. See
http://www.asiaquarterly.com/content/view/34/40/. Let's do the
math, shall we? That works out to 18,181.8 people per year since
1951, when the Chinese moved in. Gee, sounds kind of
DISPROPORTIONATE to me, especially given that I don't believe that
Tibetans have ever lobbed so much as a snowball in the direction of
Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, etc., etc.

Then there is the Arab League, and the various Muslim organizations
around the world. I wonder what they have to say about Darfur,
where over 300,000 people have died and 1.2 million have been
rendered homeless? See http://www.sudantribune.com/article.php3?
id_article=16199. Gee, not a thing. What a shocker! Then again,
that situation involves Muslims killing non-Muslims, so that's
justified, I guess.

And what about Rwanda? Twelve years ago, 500,000 Tutsis were
murdered by the Hutu government. See
Yet, the world did nothing, and I don't recally any mass protests
around the world to decry what was going on. I don't recall
Security Council condemnations being issued, or resolutions being
contemplated. Where was France then? Where was Russia? Where was
China? Where was the Arab League?

What's my point in all of this? It is simply this: There is one
standard for Israel, and another for the rest of the world. The
discussion of "proportionality" is a joke, offered only because
those who hate Israel or simply can't bring themselves to say that
they don't like Jews can't come up with anything better to say in
response to what is obviously a defensive action. It's frustrating
and it is simply wrong.

Okay, I'm done ranting for the day........

Israeli and Lebanese Bloggers at Iraqi Bloggers Central

Thanks to Jeffrey from New York in the Comments, for calling our attention to an excellent series of posts at Iraqi Bloggers Central. First of all, if you've been missing IBC, you've been missing out on an excellent web journal, so why not take a moment to bookmark that IBC homepage on your browser!

The new series is a collection of interviews with Lebanese and Israeli bloggers on the current conflict. Here's Yael K, interviewed by the inimitable Mister Ghost:
MG: For those Americans and others who question Israel's actions in Lebanon, what would you tell them?

Yael K: I would tell those who are questioning our actions that this is not a war that Israel wanted in any shape or form. It is not one we were looking for and it is not one that we started. It is a war that was forced upon us. It is certainly not a war that anyone on our side is taking any joy or comfort in. It is a situation that is taking a terrible toll on civilians on both sides of this conflict and our hearts go out to the innocent Lebanese civilians caught up in this chaos. We are not fighting a war against Lebanon. We have no anger or enmity toward the Lebanese people. Far from it. We are fighting against a terrorist organization that has as a stated goal the destruction of our country ...

Read the rest at the link, and don't forget to pay a visit to Yael's homepage.

Lebanese journaler Lebanos is interviewed here:
MG: Why do you think Hezb'allah acted now?

Lebanos: Alan M. Dershowitz, a Jewish I presume, the Professor of Law at Harvard and the author of "Preemption" wrote today at jpost.com that Israel was attacked from areas that it does not occupy. And that last sentence says a lot about the situation. Hizbullah indeed attacked inside the Israeli borders, but Israel is occupying a 40 km2 of silver land, sending it's warplanes and sea destroyers to Lebanese territories, prisoning 3 Lebanese captives from earlier operations inside Israel lead by the Palestinians, and refusing to hand out the mines maps to the UN. Those points I stated above are the reasons which Hizbullah is exploiting to keep on it's political agenda, if any. ...

The rest is at the links, and there's much more at the IBC homepage, including interviews with long-time readers of Iraq the Model and some beautiful artwork by IBC contributors and friends.


More on Transatlantic Terror Plot

Debka: 'The White House says the terror plot to blow up six UK planes bound for the United States was a direct threat to the US. Five major American cities were targeted but not named. American officials reported the terrorists had planned to target flights to California, Washington and New York by United Airlines, American Airlines and Continental Airlines. The terror alert for incoming British flights was raised to red after the general level was put up to orange. The terror plot was suggestive of al Qaeda, according to US homeland security, which is sending federal air marshals to the UK. New York Mayor Bloomberg announced extra security measures at international airports and baggage searches on the subways as a precaution. All liquids have been banned on hand luggage in America. The suicide bombers were suspected of plotting to smuggle explosives aboard targeted flights in liquid form in hand luggage. Scotland Yard said 21 suspects, all British Muslims of Pakistani origin, had been arrested in the police operation and more were on the way. They said the terror plot was bigger than 9/11, would have involved deaths in “unimaginable” numbers and had “global dimensions.” ...'

ThreatsWatch explores the Pakistan connection and the link with Lashkar-e-Taiba.
From ABC News, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito report that British Intelligence had a man on the inside of the 30-man cell that sought to blow up US-bound airliners in a plot becoming known as “Bojinka II,” nearly identical in scope and method to Operation Bojinka I in 1995. In British Penetrate Terror Cell, it is also detailed that an arrest in Pakistan two days earlier caused the British operation – Operation Overt – to descend upon the cell before they learned of the individual arrested. A link between the deep mole and the arrested would have apparently tipped the cell to the British operation.

Also, the BBC reports that a Pakistan arrest several weeks ago originally unearthed the plot, which Pakistan claims uncovered the plot and led to the British investigation.

While it was feared that the Pakistani arrest on the Afghan border days ago would jeopardize the British operation, it is worth noting that the five ringleaders of the 30-man terror cell are not among the apprehended and on the loose, presumably still in Britain. Word from Pakistan would logically reach the leaders first. Did they take immediate evasive action and run aground in haste without informing the 24 who were eventually arrested? ...

The analysis disputes the conventional wisdom of the "busted-up, decentralized" terrorist organization, and of the "homegrown terrorist". Worth reading in fulll.

CTB has a roundup..
British authorities have been tracking the plot for months, and the arrests were made "when they learned several of the men had booked flights to the U.S. in the next several days, for apparent trial runs." The plot is walked back to Karachi, Pakistan. See the ABC News story on Matiur Rahman, key Al Qaeda operative who might have planned this operation. Also on ABC News site: Three alleged ringleaders have been identified; two recently traveled to Pakistan and later received money wired to them from Pakistan, reportedly to purchase tickets for the suicide bombers. Sources identify the three, now in custody, as Rashid Rauf, Mohammed al-Ghandra, and Ahmed al Khan. Fox News at 3 pm ET:"British authorities are 'urgently' seeking the arrests of up to 10 more suspects in the terrorist plot uncovered early Thursday morning to blow up U.S.-bound flights with liquid explosives carried onto planes via carry-on luggage." Twenty-four main suspects are now in custody. ...

Afternoon Roundup

Michael Totten arrives in Israel.
Tel Aviv is surreally normal under the circumstances. The soft beaches – and these are some of the best in the Mediterranean – are packed with sunbathers, tourists, and probably refugees. Restaurants, cafes, shops, and bars, are all open. I hear languages from all over the world in the lobby of my hotel. Some of these people are obvious tourists, dutifully attending vacations they booked long before the shadow of war hung over the city.

If it weren’t for the military aircraft ominously flying low over the beach on their way to pound Hezbollah, this could be Miami. Or – dare I say it? – Beirut.

Meanwhile, Kiryat Shmona in the north is a bad place today, darkened, covered in smoke, all but abandoned, and randomly exploding like a miniature Sarajevo. ...

ITM: Logic amid the sands.
What I'm trying to say here is that sometimes making people aware of simple and available statistics can change a mindset from "they came to steal" to "then why are they here?" and this for sure is a dangerous beginning for the ruling regimes in this region and this primitive language of numbers poses a threat to the dominant mentality because it leads to a few logical results that collide forcefully with the illusions being spread by the Arab and Islamic regimes and media institutions who hate logic even more than they hate the west.

The sad truth here is that fighting this misinformation is very difficult although I do see some encouraging signs and growing awareness among many thinkers and intellectuals here. However the deepest problem here remains that the two institutions in charge of spreading information and forming the mindset of the population, that is the educational and media institutions ... [Sounds familiar. - aa]

ThreatsWatch: Hurry up and wait.
No one can question the IDF’s initial caution.

But at some point, if you are going to win, Israel needs to drop the leash and loose the dogs.

Otherwise, call a unilateral ceasefire, bring the boys home and resettle northern Israel to other parts of the country beyond Hizballah’s reach, to which victory will have been ceded.

There is no nuance in the choice before Israel.

What is being executed at present is “Hurry up and wait,” leaving the fight for another day, perhaps not soon and perhaps a day when Hizballah fights with a nuclear-armed Iran behind it.

What then?


Arms and the Woman: Grey Eagle

Don't miss the chance to visit Grey Eagle's blog, A Female Soldier.

Here's one captain's tale of the glamorous life of a battle captain:
If someone would have said, “Captain, what is the absolute LEAST thing you want to do while serving in Iraq?” I would have said, “I NEVER want to be a Battle Captain–I want to have boots on the ground–rally the troops in a blaze of glory–kick some doors in–wooohooo!” So, of course, that being the case, here I sit at 0250 AM, as the Battle Captain. I rarely see daylight so I look something like I just crawled out of a cave in order to stalk my next victim for chow–while all my buddies are sporting their “California” tans looking like they belong on the cover of a Maxim magazine. I have made close friends with the other Battle Captains because by nature of the job, we have to communicate quite frequently, even though I have never seen half of them in real life. The most excitement I have in a day consists of trying to beg my boss to let me leave the FOB ...

But that's the price to be paid for getting to see the "big picture".

Military spouse Balding Eagle posts an inspirational clip. You know the drill, clickee clickee. Trust me, it's worth it.


Let's blogroll!

Melanie Phillips on the media war against the Jews. Here's a clip from Part 1:
What do you do if you don’t like Jews, and someone else who doesn’t like Jews makes a crude if drunken anti-Jewish remark and finds that his reputation sinks through the floor as a result? Why, you make even more gross anti-Jewish remarks, about the fact that it’s impossible to make anti-Jewish remarks because these Jews are so up themselves as ‘God’s people’ that they not only ‘crucify’ (sic) the person who has made the original remark (just as they crucified Jesus Christ — the collective libel, as it happens, which happens to be the very message of the movie made by the man who made the offending remark in the first place) but they also try to suppress the freedom of speech of those who want to scapegoat them; the bloody cheek of these people who claim to be ‘the great unimpeachable race apart’.

Find out who - and where! - at the link.

Neo: The skinny on Bush. Here's the latest on a guy who's just turned 60:
First, the bad news: he's shrunk a quarter of an inch. Haven't we all? And gained five pounds, although he still has very little body fat, especially for a man his age (sixty, prime of life!).

The rest of the statistics are astounding, especially for a man under the sort of stress a post-9/11 war president endures. Blood pressure? 106/68, a level usually achieved only by young children, and by yogis who've attained nirvana.

Remind me to stop complaining about my stressful life.

Atlas: Visit to a secret Israeli base. Yes, we're linking her again. Deal with it.
Of everything I saw today, The secret IDF military installation brought it all home. Down in a valley where detection is difficult (if not impossible), our vehicle traveled down a dirt gravel road. And suddenly down under a slope in the terrain were tents, jeeps, choppers and a flurry of activity as a team of special IDF forces was preparing an operation to rescue soldiers that were down (we subsequently learned two of the men died.)

Rome wasn't built in a day, but this place was. Go to the link for details, and some great photos. (No, not photos of the secret base, what do you think this is, the New York Times?)

Steven Vincent: Honoring a Life

What are we doing here?

What is it, exactly, that gets us from one day to the next, that gives our lives meaning, and that makes tolerable the intolerable fact that, as surely as we live, we will one day die?

To know how each person answers this question is to know the person. Those who had the honor of knowing Steven Vincent in life, know how he would have answered.

I did not get to meet Steven, but I did meet his widow, Lisa Ramaci-Vincent, in New York last November. I was struck by her strength, her poise, and her dedication to the same ideals that Steven gave his life for. This is what it means to truly respect a person, to honor them, and to support them: it is understanding and striving for the highest values that guided the other's life.

A couple of weeks ago, a screen pal on an online community I belong to wrote that she'd seen "Gunner Palace", and that until then, she hadn't had much compassion for US soldiers "in the abstract"; but after learning that so many of them were uneducated people with no other options, she was able to muster some form of sympathy.

Now as you can see, here the "compassion" is wholly dependent on the individual's own moral and intellectual superiority. It is a compassion that kicks in once its subject can be cut down to size. This person knew I was a veteran, but never thought to satisfy her curiosity about military life (and she must have been curious, because she took the time to watch the movie) by asking me directly. Because she was unable to see me "in the abstract".

Countercolumn has a great post on this, responding to a "Support the Troops" article at left-wing Mother Jones:
How about showing your support for your wife by condescending to her, infantilizing her at every turn, constantly telling other people what a dupe she is, and by opposing and hating everything she does?

Think she'll appreciate that?

Just askin'.

So back to Steven Vincent. A few months ago, I showed a friend the laptop I'd had signed by various luminaries at the Pajamas Media launch - including Lisa Ramaci-Vincent. "Don't know if you recall who Lisa Ramaci-Vincent is," I prompted, because it was clear she didn't know, "but she's the widow of Steven Vincent, the journalist killed in Iraq."

My friend rolled her eyes piously and let out an anguished sigh. "So many," she mused. Well, the theatrics were nice, but was there any curiosity about who this Steven Vincent person had been as an individual? What he had stood for, what he'd believed in, what he lived and died for? There was none.

You cannot "support" or "honor" anybody without knowing something about them - who they are and why they do what they do. Today we have honored Steven Vincent's memory with blog posts; tomorrow, and every day for the rest of our lives, we can honor his memory by the way we live.


As you'll have noticed, my posting break is now officially over. Morning Report has had its leave cancelled. And it's not like I haven't got other stuff going on. As I commented in today's Morning Report Stratfor's observation about the difficulty of managing multiple tasks hit home.

Yesterday evening I went on a canvassing trip in the Portland area with Basic Rights Oregon. I'm pleased to report that we had an amazingly successful night, and got lots of support from the people we contacted. I also came out of the closet as a Republican to a couple of the other volunteers, who handled it quite well, and put out feelers about any Log Cabin activity in the area.

Will be making a trip to the Bay Area in the near future, to visit The Next Generation (who's almost 11).

Meanwhile, the blogosphere rolls on. Judith is coordinating a blogburst in honor of Stephen Vincent. I had the honor of meeting Lisa Ramaci-Vincent last year, and there's quite a bit I want to say. I will get a post up by the end of the day.

Please visit Atlas Shrugs and take some time to read her posts (and view the videos) from Israel. I am not sure how soon she'll be posting from Israel again, so please keep Pamela and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

And Tisha b'Av starts tonight - the commemoration of the destruction of Jerusalem in ancient times. Something to ponder.


Winning or losing?

Michael Totten guestblogging at Instapundit writes that
Brett Stephens, Ralph Peters, and National Review think Israel is losing the war in Lebanon. That also means Lebanon and its rising democracy, as opposed to Hezbollah, are losing the war.

Let's start with the National Review piece, which begins:
We may not be losing in the Middle East, but we certainly aren’t winning.

Leaving aside the semantics of whether this says what Michael says it says, the NR piece argues that time is not on Israel's side.
But the administration is under extreme pressure to join the rest of the world in dictating an end to the Israeli offensive. For a vivid illustration of this, look no farther than secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has been showing the strain of getting knocked around by other foreign ministers for the last two weeks.

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But the underlying assumption - that, as in the past, Israel will be able to continue its offensive only until the political momentum builds to stop it - may be wrong in this case. As this blog reported this morning, there are indications that international anti-Israel sentiment isn't quite what it once was:
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union foreign ministers called on Tuesday for an immediate end to hostilities in Lebanon, watering down demands for an immediate ceasefire at the insistence of the United States' closest allies in the bloc.

A joint statement adopted at a rare August crisis meeting of the 25-nation EU said the ministers called for an immediate end to hostilities to be followed by a political agreement for a sustainable ceasefire, French Foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said.

The convoluted formula was agreed after four hours of talks as Israel intensified attacks on Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and vowed to step up ground operations, defying calls for a ceasefire.

An initial draft circulated to the ministers by the EU's Finnish presidency said flatly: "The Council called for an immediate ceasefire."

However, Britain, backed by Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark, insisted on the alternative wording and unanimity is required for EU foreign policy statements.

This clearly doesn't signal a worldwide outbreak of philo-Semitism, but it does suggest that the old rules may be due for modification this time around.

The NR piece goes on to point out that Bush's objective of a multinational force in southern Lebanon may prove unachievable, especially given that (as our friend Lebanon.Profile at LPJ has been reminding us) support for Hezbollah in Lebanon is on the upswing. NR goes on to speculate that "Israel might be forced to settle for another long war of attrition with Hezbollah."

Well, yes, a lot of things might happen:
The government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to "expanded ground operations in Lebanon," after an early morning vote by the Israel's security cabinet. Senior officers in the Israeli Defense Force have pushed for deploying Israeli troops as far north of the Litani River, but the Israeli government has been vague on this point. If the IDF pushes to the Litani River, this would be a shift in strategy from a week ago.

This post at CTB was linked on Seraphic Secret, which earlier cited the Bret Stephens piece.

Stephens declares:
Israel is losing this war.

This is not to say that it will lose the war, or that the war was unwinnable to start with. But if it keeps going as it is, Israel is headed for the greatest military humiliation in its history. During the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israelis were stunned by their early reversals against Egypt and Syria, yet they eked out a victory over these two powerfully armed, Soviet-backed adversaries in 20 days. The conflict with Hezbollah--a 15,000-man militia chiefly armed with World War II-era Katyusha rockets--is now in its 21st day. So far, Israel has nothing to show for its efforts: no enemy territory gained, no enemy leaders killed, no abatement in the missile barrage that has sent a million Israelis from their homes and workplaces.

I'm having trouble following the logic here. The enemy is still able to fire katyushas into Israel - that clearly means that Israel has not won yet. To me, this means that Israel needs to keep whacking away at Hezbollah until the terrorists are no longer able to fire so much as a bottle rocket. But there's something else that's bothering me here ... I just can't quite put my finger on it. Shall we read on?
On July 12, Israel sat behind an internationally recognized frontier, where it enjoyed a preponderance of military force. It had deterrence and legitimacy. Hezbollah's cross-border raid that day was widely condemned within Lebanon and among Arab leaders as heedless and provocative. Mr. Olmert's decision to respond with massive force enjoyed left-to-right political support. He also had a green light from the Bush administration, which has reasons of its own to want Hezbollah defanged and which assumed the Israelis were up to the job.

But it seems they are not up to the job. The war began with a string of intelligence failures ...

Wait! It's all coming back to me now. You know, I could swear I've heard this someplace before. But back to Stephens: he goes on to argue that Israel is mistakenly pursuing a strategy that "assumes that Israel can take its time against Hezbollah" and relies heavily on airpower. Again, I think recent events cast doubt on both of these assumptions.

Stephens' final point is Peters' main one: Qana. Here's Stephens: '... in Qana ... an Israeli air attack reportedly caused the deaths of at least 27 people, including 17 children.Yes, Hezbollah bears ultimate responsibility here for deliberately placing its military assets among civilians. Yet the death of those children should be counted as a crime if Israel's purposes in Lebanon are basically feckless.' And Peters: 'THE airstrike on the Lebanese village of Qana has been a tragedy for Israel. A publicity debacle, the deaths of 57 civilians united Israel's enemies, complicated American support - and may lead to a cease-fire that rewards Hezbollah. The Qana attack can't be excused. But it can be explained.' Peters' "explanation": 'All efforts to make war easy, cheap or bloodless fail. If Israel's government - or our own - goes to war, our leaders must accept the price of winning. You can't measure out military force by teaspoons. Such naive efforts led to the morass in Iraq - and to the corpses of Qana.'

What a lot of silliness. Did anyone doubt for a minute that Hezbollah, when grown desperate enough, would be willing to manufacture a well-timed Israeli "atrocity"? Heck, you can even gauge the timeframe when each article was written by looking at the casualty counts: Ralph Peters must have written his column earlier, before the casualty count was revised downward.

The deaths of innocent women and children in Qana are a great tragedy, and the people responsible need to be held to account. But it is much too soon to draw any sweeping conclusions about "the myth of antiseptic techno-war" and similar blather found in Peters' column.

The basic assumptions of these three columns are (1) that international pressure will force Israel to abandon its mission before meaningful success is achieved; (2) that Israel has committed itself to a primarily air-powered campaign against Hezbollah, crippling its own chances of success; and (3) the incident at Qana represents a propaganda coup for the enemy, for which Israel has only itself to blame and from which Israel cannot recover. My armchair analysis is that all three of these assumptions will be proven wrong.

One thing everybody agrees on is that the fight needs to be taken to Damascus and Tehran. And I think it will be - not because we are losing, but because we are winning.